Q: My fella and I have been on/off for 3 years. I was the first (and only) girl he'd ever been in love with. Each off period commenced with both of us crying and saying how much we love each other but acknowledging that it wasn't working. Each of the reunions has involved him promising to try harder. It comes down to the fact that he has some emotional baggage that prevents him from being everything I need and want from him. He can't express his feelings well. I, on the other hand, work perfectly for him. He thinks he's bad for me, isn't giving me what I need, and that he doesn't deserve me. But all I want is him.
A year ago December we broke up "for good." It was comical how badly I took it. I spent months crying, never falling out of love with him -- but we agreed to not talk and to try to move on. We decided we couldn't be friends because we were too in love. He moved 2 hours away. I spent 2010 trying to get my life in order and trying to get over fella to start dating again. And I did. I tried. HARD. But never got my fella out of my head. This past December I had had enough. It had been a year and I felt exactly the same as when we broke up. I was in love with this man and it wasn't going away.
I sent a text (I know, I know, but I'm the product of the modern age). It was an "I miss you" text. I didn't expect a response but I got one that said he misses me too, wants to get together, etc. The reunion was amazing. It's now been 3 months. We see each other every other weekend. Every visit is perfect. We talk everyday -- he's affectionate, listens, talks more than ever -- like a new and improved fella.
When we go out, though, I'm introduced as "his friend" even though to anyone with eyes, we're together. When someone asks if we're dating, we both just kind of make odd noises and give blank stares. I finally got sick of this. During a recent visit I said, "We need to stop seeing each other. If this is going nowhere, I can't do this." He starts crying. Sobbing. Saying I'm the only person he wants to be with. Says he wants to bring me home, says he wants to meet my parents (yeah we never did that). But still we have not had the "are we back together" part of the conversation.
I think I'm afraid to have the conversation because if we become official then there it is, the "official commitment" that potentially could end in another break up. This unofficial togetherness seems safe because since we're not boyfriend girlfriend we can't "break up," right? But what are we doing? Am I wasting my time? If I bring it up, will he think it's a bad idea? I know this might seem trite but I'd like to hear your advice/insight -- it's always so level headed. Sorry for the novel.
– Sentence Fragments and Dashes, Massachusetts
A: The thing is, SFAD, no matter what you call this thing you're in, you can't avoid the possibility of a breakup. If you ended it now, there would have to be a talk. You don't have to be somebody's girlfriend to get dumped.
And that's why my advice is to have Part 2 of the talk. You started it, so finish it. He wants to meet your parents? Fine. Then he should also want to be your boyfriend and confirm that you're in a relationship. You restarted this thing in December and now it's almost May. He shouldn't be freaking out when people ask him if he's dating you. You're back together. If the two of you can't call it that, you're setting yourself up to fail.
My advice: Don't make the talk a huge deal. You don't have to ambush him with questions. All you need to say is, "Do you mind if I call you my boyfriend? Because I'd like to." Some of these talks are supposed to be fun. Explain that you're just psyched to celebrate what you have.
Readers? What's her boyfriend's problem? Is this really about the title? What should she do? Is what they have good enough? Would another talk be bad? Discuss.
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Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.